How can a program top the most successful year in its history? This is the question the men’s tennis team is asking itself as its spring season opens.
At the end of last season, the Hokies were ranked 24th in the nation, the highest final ranking the program has ever received.
The team also made it to the round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament before losing to Louisville. Featured star senior Yoann Re, who was the No. 58 ranked player in the country, departed after the season.
Coming into this season, the Hokies are forced to cope with the loss of Re, as well as the expectations that come with being ranked so highly.
“(Re) was one of the most successful guys that has ever been here, but we have a tough team, a really good team,” said junior Luka Somen. “I’m pretty sure we’re going to take advantage of that and be as successful as last year.”
Although the team has lost Re, it welcomes back redshirt senior Pedro Graber, who missed all of last season while recovering from wrist surgery.
“We had a really top-notch player in Pedro who was here with us last year, but was just not able to play,” said head coach Jim Thompson. “(Graber has) been able to help fill that void Yoann (left), but ... he’s such a great player. We will miss him this year for sure.”
In addition to Graber’s presence, the team emphasizes the increased depth of the roster as one of the factors that should help the team repeat its past success.
“(Re) is a tough guy to replace, but all of us really have made a huge jump,” said senior Will Beck. “And everyone through the last guy on our team all are so close to each other that really almost any guy can play almost anywhere in the lineup.”
The team will include only three seniors to go with five juniors, three sophomores and two freshmen on the roster.